Airfares jumped last year, amid flight disruptions


Airline ticket prices are on the rise, according to fresh data from the Transportation Department, even as passengers had to endure a summer of woes precipitated by staffing and technology issues.

The average airfare in the third quarter of 2022, according to DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, was $384, up from the inflation-adjusted fare of $340 during the same time in 2021 — a 13 percent increase.

The increase comes as DOT continues to deal with a record number of airline complaints. In October of last year, DOT received 5,379 complaints, well above the 1,139 complaints received in October of 2019 — a 372 percent increase.

Though fares are rising, they haven’t yet returned to levels seen before the Covid pandemic.

The average fare in the third quarter of 2019 when adjusted for inflation was $399, compared with $384, according BTS.

The results for average fares were based on BTS’ origin and destination survey, a sample of 10 percent of airline tickets that were used during the quarter.

Background: Air fares remain lower than their all-time inflation adjusted high of $577 set in 2000, according to BTS data that dates back to 1995. However, the lower fare prices since the mid-2000s don’t take into consideration the proliferation of add-on fees like baggage, seat upgrades and selecting an assigned seat.

These “ancillary” fees, which began increasing around 2008, are a growing part of airlines’ profits. In 1990, 88.5 percent of airline revenue was derived from fares, while in 2022 airlines collected just 72.6 percent of operating revenue from fares. U.S. airlines raked in $112.2 billion in passenger fees during the first nine months of 2022, BTS said.

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